Whenever I’m in any social gathering, visit a hospital, or go to a local organization, I scan the eyes of all the Syrians present; is there anyone here I know? If I coincidentally find a familiar face I ask him/her right away: when did you leave? What’s home like now? What was the last thing you saw? Is there life left in my country?
One day when I was taking my son to an organization he suddenly exclaimed: “Mom, look! Our neighbor, Abu Mutaz!” Memories came back to me of how I would see him from our window walking back from the mosque, feeling his way around with his stick to compensate for his blindness. I would watch his careful steps, how he knows exactly when to cross the street, how many steps he needs to reach his house, where he stops to greet people and then proceeds to have conversations with them, returning home without losing his way.
What I remember most about Abu Mutaz are the nights when we endured all the bombings and everyone would start praying. His voice would be the first one we hear, calling out “God is great”.
At first I used to only listen, and feel the strength in Abu Mutaz’s voice, it’s as if he was calling out to God to make us feel that God is greater than those bombs and the terror that they leave within us, and greater than the world around us that let us down. I don’t sense in his voice any fear for the lives of his 8 children, but I find within it a man that is confident that whatever happens to us is God’s will, Who is stronger than all. And so I started calling out to God with my children so our voices would drown out the sounds of the bombs and explosions. Until now I remember how in the midst of our weakness we were strong, and I still believe that the secret of strength lies within whoever fights the bullet with the word.